2024 Players Championship Picks: Xander Schauffele & 4 More

2024 Players Championship Picks: Xander Schauffele & 4 More article feature image

Via Getty Images/Action Network Design. Pictured (left to right): Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele & Russell Henley.

After hitting on Scottie Scheffler outright last week, Derek Farnsworth is back with his 2024 Players Championship Picks.

We got back on track last week with the Scottie Scheffler outright and the Corey Conners top 20. We are inching closer to breakeven on the year. As a reminder, I am doing a giveaway if we can secure a profit at the end of the year.

We now turn our attention to the biggest event so far this year, The Players Championship. This is one of those events that I always love the idea of but rarely seem to have success betting on. Course history means very little here, and that’s largely because water is in play on every single hole. The prevalence of water hazards increases the variance, which is why you see so many players with mixed course history.

I have had the pleasure of playing this course. If you are wondering how I fared, let’s just say I wouldn’t have made the cut in any sort of event. I did find the green on the 17th hole on my third attempt, so at least I can say that I hit the island green (eventually).

The course is a par-72 that measures 7,275 yards. Like most Pete Dye courses, this one can’t be overpowered off the tee. Distance can still be an advantage, but accuracy is more important this week. The fairways are narrow, 30.6 yards on average, and tough to hit on average, 59% Driving Accuracy in 2023.

The difficulty of the course usually depends on the wind (and sometimes the rain). The course doesn’t get as firm and fast as it used to before they moved the event forward from May to March. This is a course where golfers can make a lot of birdies if they hit the ball well, but there are big numbers looming if ball-striking isn't sharp.

The name of the game is finding fairways off the tee and being dialed in with approach spots. In terms of approach distances, nearly 40% of approach shots come from fewer than 150 yards, and nearly 30% of approach shots come from more than 200 yards. This means golfers will be hitting a lot of wedges and a lot of mid/long irons.

The greens themselves are fairly small at 5,500 square feet on average and feature Bermudagrass with Poa annua overseed. The way I have seen them described is not having as much grain as typical Bermuda greens while not being as bumpy as typical Poa annua greens. The greens are tough to hit (59% greens in regulation in 2023), so a tidy short game doesn’t hurt. Let’s dive into my 2024 Players Championship Picks for the week.

  • Starting bankroll: $1,000
  • Last week: +$163
  • Current bankroll: $816

2024 Players Championship Picks

Xander Schauffele to Win +2400 (bet365)

Bet $20 to pay $260

Xander Schauffele doesn’t seem to be a popular bet this week. While being on an island does make me nervous, it has allowed us to get a very generous number at +2400. He’s always been a golfer with a complete game. He can gain strokes in all facets and tends to contend in a lot of stronger fields.

He hasn’t won since 2022 (when he won the Scottish Open and Travelers Championship in back-to-back weeks), but he has had a myriad of high-end finishes since then. He had a down year with the driver in 2023 but has gained at least 2.6 strokes Off the Tee in four of five starts in 2024.

Surprisingly, his putter has held him back from winning this year. However, I’m not concerned because he’s been an elite putter throughout his career, including last year when he finished fifth on Tour in SG: Putting. His game is trending in the right direction, and he finished second here in 2018.

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Vitkor Hovland to Win +2500 (DraftKings)

Bet $20 to pay $520

If Viktor Hovland was in better form, he would be priced similarly to Rory McIlroy (in the +1400 to +1600 range). The poor form has led to a very enticing +2500 number this week. We know he’s one of the best in Total Driving on Tour and has historically played his best golf on courses that require solid ball-striking.

With water in play on every hole, ball-striking goes a long way at TPC Sawgrass. He made strides with his short game last season but has struggled in that regard to start 2024 (he’s lost strokes around the green in four straight events). The hope this week is that he peppers greens in regulation and doesn’t need to rely on his short game as much.

He’s the best in the field in strokes gained per round in Florida and has finished in the top 10 at this event in each of the last two years.

Russell Henley to Win +5000 (FanDuel)

Bet $20 to pay $520

It never feels great clicking on Russell Henley to win a golf tournament, but it’s hard to ignore his course fit and recent form. To play well at TPC Sawgrass, golfers need to find fairways and excel on approach, and those are Henley's strengths.

The Georgia Bulldog is good around the green, one of the best in the field in Bogey Avoidance and has been riding a hot putter in 2024. He has back-to-back top 20 finishes at this event and is coming off a top-five finish at Bay Hill. In a year of longshot winners, it’s not crazy to think Henley could win this week.

Tommy Fleetwood Top 10 +500 (BetRivers)

Bet $20 to pay $120

Tommy Fleetwood is looking for some redemption after writing down a 10 on the scorecard after multiple water-balls and missing the cut last week. I’m not concerned in the slightest because Fleetwood has an excellent track record in Florida and at this course in particular, with two top-seven finishes in his last five appearances.

As someone who bets on Fleetwood often, I am well aware of his inability to win on U.S. soil. I think he can cross the finish line eventually, but I will settle for a top 10 this week.

Eric Cole Top 20 +375 (bet365)

Bet $20 to pay $95

Eric Cole let many down (myself included) at the Cognizant Classic but bounced back with a top-30 finish at Bay Hill last week. That course is much better suited for bombers, which makes the finish even more impressive.

The driver is really the only weak club in his bag, but he’s elite on approach, excellent around the green and a strong putter. He also makes a ton of birdies. If he can keep the ball in play off the tee, I like his chances of being around the lead heading into the final round. He finished T27 in his debut here last year.

Good luck this week!

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